I was diagnosed with a learning disability in first grade, and every day for ten years after I struggled in every way imaginable.
I was scared, hurt, angry, and defiant. Apparently there was only one way to teach and one way to learn. That's what I was told. Because I didn't conform to standards, plop went the label and down went the image I had of myself.
It wasn’t my difficulty with learning that dragged me down; it was the label, the treatment, the role of someone who is broken. Once that seed was planted, it spread to every corner and took root so deeply that a decade passed before it was trimmed down. To be honest, part of it remains.
My schoolwork suffered, my relationships with teachers and friends suffered, and my mental and emotional states more than suffered—they were devastated. I had accepted the label of “stupid,” and wore it around my neck like a two-ton weight, dragging it with me everywhere I went.
It’s clear why self-esteem and confidence play such a large role in my work with teens. I’ve been in their shoes and have experienced the pain. I also found a way out.
I may never work directly with your teen, but what follows can certainly help any child, at any age, discover inside themselves the strength and determination to turn a so-called learning disability into a life-changing advantage. There are many ways to teach, many ways to learn. If your child doesn’t fit the mold of one, don’t worry. There are many other ways for them to shine.